The National Guard, the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States and one of the nation's longest enduring institutions, celebrated its 372nd birthday in December of 2008. The National Guard traces its history back to the earliest English colonies in North America. Responsible for their own defense, the colonists drew on English military tradition and organized their able-bodied male citizens into militias.
The Guard doubled the size of the Regular Army when it was mobilized in 1940, more than a year before Pearl Harbor, and contributed 19 divisions to that war, as well as numerous other units including Guard aviation squadrons. More than 138,000 Guardsmen were mobilized for Korea, followed by numerous smaller mobilizations for the Berlin Crisis, Vietnam, and numerous strikes and riots at home. Approximately 63,000 Army Guardsmen were called to serve in Desert Storm, and in the decade since then Guardsmen have seen a greater role than ever before -- conducting peacekeeping in Somalia, Haiti, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Guardsmen were called up by both their States and the Federal government to provide security at home and combat terrorism abroad. Today, in additional to its usual state-side requirements and OCONUS peace-keeping missions, the Army National Guard is heavily engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today's National Guard continues its historic dual mission, providing the states with units trained and equipped to protect life and property, while providing the nation with units ready to defend the United States and its interests around the world.
The History of the Guard
The citizen-soldiers who make up the National Guard have fought in every major American war since 1637. War has changed a great deal since 1637, and today's Guard must be prepared to fight in a high-technology environment, using complex weapons and equipment. The men and women of today's Guard are ready to become full-time professional soldiers if the need arises, whether for federal or state missions just as they did in 1637.
Noncommissioned Officers (NCO) History
The history of the United States Army's noncommissioned officers officially began in 1775, with the birth of the Continental Army. The American noncommissioned officer did not copy the British. He, like the American Army itself, blended traditions of the the French, British, and Prussian armies into a uniquely American institution. As the years progressed, the American political system, disdain for the aristocracy, social attitudes, and the vast westward expanses further removed the US Army noncommissioned officer from his European counterparts, and created a truly American noncommissioned officer.